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working in hot conditions

  • If You Can’t Stand the Heat…Heat Stress Training

    May has slipped away from us and with another Memorial Day in the books summer has Heat Stressofficially arrived. If you have a Veteran in your family or know one please take time to thank them for their service. I grew up in a big old farm house in Wisconsin. Summers were warm and humid, but it seemed that there was always some sort of breeze to keep us comfortable, but not enough to keep your ice cream from melting.

    My first real experience with hot and miserable was baling hay for some of our dairy farm neighbors. My brother was tall so he got to ride on the back of the hay wagon in the field grabbing and stacking bales as they came out of the baler. Me, my job was up in the top of the barn in the hay mow catching and stacking bales as they came off of the elevator. It was hot and dusty work, it seemed like everything would just stick to you. The Farmer’s name was Henry, he was a huge man with a great sense of humor. You could actually stand alongside of him and get in the shade. He was also a caring man who was quick to remind us to drink all the water we needed it was free!! We also wore bandanas to cut down on the dust we ate.

    At the end of the day there was supper. It looked like thanksgiving, he would lead grace and we ate like we earned it, but almost too tired to enjoy it. You bet we slept well at night before we would get up early the next morning and do it all over again. That was my first “Heat Stress Training.” Drink your share of water, dress properly, eat well, and get plenty of rest. Henry didn’t have to write this down, His father taught him, and it was the right thing to do in treating his family and a couple of hired hands how to deal with heat and life on the farm.

    Today OSHA requires an employer to have a written plan to deal with Heat stress. Training employees to take care of themselves will reduce occupational injuries and illnesses due to heat. Employees need to understand and recognize the symptoms of heat stress, and what to do for themselves and others. Employers also have a responsibility under the general duty clause (Pub. Law 91-596 Section 5(a)(1)) to make sure that the resources are available for employees to deal with heat stress. This training can and should be carried home to your family as well. Do you have an aspiring athlete, how about an infant in the house? DO NOT LEAVE AN INFANT IN A CAR, children can quickly dehydrate in warm conditions, which can cause severe injury and even death. Now you have a bigger problem. Perhaps you are a little league coach. Teach them about proper diet and hydration. Now sit down relax, enjoy a nice lemonade, and think about enjoying summer while it lasts, because you took care of Heat Stress Training.

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